Cantabile Tomorrow is taking the route of typical Korean drama which is not really a bad thing however don’t expect to be entertained in the same way like how Nodame Cantabile did to most of us. I guess it’s hard for Koreans to create a good remake of Japanese drama because both have different style in terms of storytelling, plot, humor and characterization. Nodame Cantabile especially is full of Japanese humors and antics. Nodame character itself is very manga-ish, it’s so easy to turn her into a two dimensional character with no depth however Ueno Juri managed to create an endearing, wacky yet soulful portrayal of Noda Megumi. She is without a doubt is a very talented actress therefore she did set the bar very high.
I can understand why Shim Eun Kyung (SEK) denied this role at first, she was certainly afraid with all the backlashes and comparison with Ueno Juri. And hey who can blame her? She is talented yet very young (barely turned 20 this year), the burden may be too immense for her as she was reported having a breakdown behind the film set. Personally, I think she is not that bad and she is getting better after episode 4, she just need to create her own Nodame like how Joo Won did with his character Cha Yoo Jin. And to be fair, Nodame’s character is more complex than Chiaki’s and people may not notice it because Ueno Juri was playing her character very seamlessly.
People criticized that SEK’s Sol Nae Il is very childish and dumb-looking. She does look childish due to SEK’s youthful face and petite body. Ueno Juri is very mature and womanly in terms of appearance, the height gap between her and Tamaki Hiroshi is not huge either. Meanwhile, Joo Won and SEK’s huge height gap is very apparent thus making Naeil looks like a middle-schooler beside the mature Yoo Jin. SEK exaggerated alot with her expression and motion, but she is endearing enough and fine with emotional scene. Still I found her Nodame’s portrayal is a bit too shallow and overly cute. Nodame is not cute but quirky, hence SEK’s need to tone down the cutesy act and bring out the real quirks. I believe she is doing her best and will gradually improve for the upcoming episodes.
Frankly, I had a good feeling about SEK but worried about Joo Won at first. Fortunately, he exceeds my expectation with his Chiaki’s portrayal. Joo Won is not trying to carbon-copy Tamaki Hiroshi’s Chiaki, instead he is creating his own character without missing all the essentials. The Japanese Chiaki is strict and steely, the acting approach was more technical with all the exaggerated motions and expressions. However, Joo Won as Cha Yoo Jin tend to be more natural and subtle with his overall expression, manner and motion. He is a softie with a tough exterior but he clearly cares about Naeil and his surrounding. Yoo Jin might have a prickly personality but he is not a jerk, he can appreciate great talents like Naeil’s. Now I believe all the rave about Joo Won’s acting skill, his gorgeous face is growing in you slowly and I swear he can bewitch anyone with those brooding eyes.
I do love how this drama is emphasizing more on Naeil and Yoo Jin’s relationship. The romance was so lacking in Nodame Cantabile thus I hardly believe Chiaki and Nodame are in romantic relationship. Between Nodame and Chiaki, I always believe Nodame is the true prodigy with her extraordinary natural talent. Of course Chiaki is super talented too but he works real hard for it. Nodame in the other hand is never serious about her music because of her past trauma, however her talent can still astonished the almighty Chiaki who consider her as his muse. In the Japanese version, I always confused whether Chiaki does love Nodame as a woman or he simply loves her amazing talent. We never get the closure because the focus is always about their music and dreams.
Fortunately, Korean drama is always good with love triangles and heart-tugging romance, the introduction of a new character named Lee Yoon Ho will spice up their relationship. I bet he will be Yoo Jin’s rival both in music and romance, yeah it’s very cliche but effective (He’s super cute too, get them both Naeil!). Yoo Jin may need him to realize his growing affection towards Naeil not only as his muse but as his girl too. Naeil needs to grow up as well because right now she acts like a teen girl with a huge crush not love. With her current state, she can’t be Yoo Jin’s equal and their relationship will not be sustainable for the long run. I guess Naeil has realized that as she watched over Yoo Jin’s great performance while conducting S Orchestra. I hope we can get a full closure for this couple in this version.
The other supporting characters like Yoo Il Rak (Mine, Violin), Ma Soo Min (Masumi, Timpani) and Choi Min Hee (Sakura, Contrabass) are solid and bring more color to this drama. I love their interactions with each other along with our main characters. They also have distinctive personalities and appearances, so it’s not hard to differentiate them comparing to normal supporting character in other dramas. In normal days, Il Rak, Soo Min and Naeil loves to flock on Yoo Jin like houseflies, just watch how Il Rak almost strangled Yoo Jin to death HA! Their interaction is so funny and bizarre, definitely the comedy highlight of this Korean remake.
Music wise I think Nodame Cantabile did better, Naeil and Yoo Jin’s musical performances are still lacking in my opinion. However I must admit the setting and cinematography of this drama is superb. The setting is very high class and gorgeous, Naeil and Yoo Jin’s room are super huge like luxurious apartment, I wonder how can they afford it especially Naeil. But this is expected from a Korean drama, they know how to impress visually when other things are lacking. The storyline is pretty much the same with little tweaks here and there. They are taking more realistic approach with minimum slapstick comedy and bizarre situations. For example: They tone down Stresemann’s perverted and womanizer habit (I kinda miss it though).
After six episodes of Cantabile Tomorrow, I have decided not to compare this drama scene by scene as I used to be and just thoroughly enjoy this drama as it is. Because frankly this drama is quite entertaining and very easy on the eye. Comparison won’t do this drama any justice because clearly Cantabile Tomorrow is taking a different route to tell its story and there are lot of Korean drama cliches along the way but it works at least for me. I hope you can enjoy this drama as much as me too. Stay tune for my full review for this series.
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